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Vuelta a Espana 2019: Slovenia celebrates as Pogacar wins stage and Roglic secures overall title

Joe Robinson
14 Sep 2019

A mighty solo performance see 20-year-old Slovenian take third stage win, white young rider's jersey and final podium spot

Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic will take a maiden Grand Tour victory at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana after successfully defending the red jersey on the penultimate stage of the race. Meanwhile, 20-year-old compatriot Tadej Pogacar secured a third stage win of the race and a spot on the podium after an impressive solo ride.

Roglic was unfazed by a difficult final mountain stage into Plataforma de Gredos, finishing alongside rival Alejandro Valverde to all but secure the overall win.

Tomorrow's processional route into Madrid will be a day of celebration for Roglic as he confirms his status as one of the world's best Grand Tour riders. He takes the title by a margin of almost three minutes from Movistar's Alejandro Valverde, who rides to a seventh career Vuelta podium.

The stage was won by Pogacar, the race's youngest rider, who attacked on the penultimate categorised climb of the race before holding off a clearly-tired peloton.

It was a rider that not only saw Pogacar take the stage but also usurp Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez in the battle for the white young rider's jersey and also leapfrog Movistar's Nairo Quintana onto the podium

Starting the year never having had a rider on a Grand Tour podium, Slovenia not only crowns it first Grand Tour in Roglic but also finishes the Vuelta with two riders on the podium confirming itself a cycling's newest superpower.

The last day of real racing

The first hour of racing was frantic as Lopez's Astana attempted to split the race on the Puerto de Pedro Bernard. They were also helped by Movistar, proving that relations had been improved after yesterday's controversy, as they attempted to isolate Roglic.

Jumbo-Visma stayed strong, however, with Roglic's domestiques doing a stellar job for the first 100km, keeping the peloton all together as they battled through a second consecutive day of poor weather.

In fact, the weather was the only thing of note for most of the stage's second quarter. A break had managed to establish and carve out a lead and the peloton seemed more interested in staying upright than racing hard.

What it did was tee up some full throttle racing on the last major climb of this year's Vuelta, the Puerto de Pena Negra, 14km at 5%.

Astana took the initiative yet again, deploying a full mountain train from the base of the climb for Lopez. One by one they took there pulls until the bunch was sufficiently strung out and whittled to only the best climbers.

The Colombian was first to attack although could not draw out a gap. The pace lulled and this was when Pogacar took his chance. The 20-year-old lept ahead with 4km left of the climb and soon took a minute's lead, enough to virtually take the young rider's jersey and edge closer to the podium.

The young Slovenian was first to crest the climb, carrying a 90-second gap down the descent, extending it by a further seven seconds as he hit the last 20km of racing. 

Pogacar's gap went up and up as he was cheered on by his own roadside fan club. He was confirming his talent and making his name known to the wider cycling world.